Officials with the Minnesota Department of Transportation have announced that they will not include a west route alternative as part of the Highway 53 re-route near Virginia.

The highway needs to be relocated by May 2017.  Cliffs Natural Resources - a local mining operation - has rights to minerals under the road because of a 1960 easement agreement and anticipates that it will need access to those resources soon.

“Our examination of the alternative routes and preliminary engineering has led us to this point,” said MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle. “The west route, though viable, will likely have the greatest community, environmental and economic impacts. We know enough, now, to be able put it on the shelf and put more work into the other alternatives.”

The westerly route would run from the south junction of Highway 37 to the west, then north along County Road 7. It would rejoin Highway 53 on the west side of Virginia.

The action by MNDOT means that the westerly route - W-A1 - will not be included in the departments amended decision document.  The amended document will now only include three potential routes.